If you watch Bellator MMA fights on a regular basis, chances are you’ve seen a 24-year-old fighter with a beard who calls himself “The Caveman.” This is David Rickels, who is always a fan favorite as Bellator travels across the country. Not only has his fighting gotten his name out there, but his personality and entrances have further increased his fan base.

“It’s grown quite a bit, and I really love it,” Rickels told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “One of the reasons I got into this sport is because I like being an entertainer. I love the feel of the crowd and people chanting your name. I’ve always loved winning over crowds, and Bellator and Spike have given me a good platform to do so.”

Bellator and Spike TV joined forces to start 2013, and Rickels gained spotlight by being in the main event of Bellator 87 on Jan. 31. “The Caveman” defeated Lloyd Woodard by unanimous decision on that night, which marked the start of the promotion’s lightweight tournament.

The two were moved to the main card slot after Patricky Freire suffered an injury. However, both men put on an entertaining fight, and Rickels gives Woodard props for the resilience shown.

“I’ll give Woodard credit for staying standing. I felt like the first round was definitely super close and then I kinda just took off the next two rounds as I felt my confidence in my game,” Rickels said. “I hit him with some really hard shots and he just didn’t wanna fall down.”

The win allowed Rickels to advance to the semifinals, where he was set to face Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy. However, Sarnavskiy suffered a fractured hand and had to pull out of the tournament.

“The Caveman” vs. “Tiger” would have been a great match-up in styles, but Rickels is moving on to his new opponent, Jason Fischer.

“I don’t wanna say I’m disappointed, just because I feel bad for him for not being able to come into the fight. He’s a highly talented kid, and [I] thought me and him were going to be a great match-up,” the lightweight said. “But I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me, so Jason Fischer it is.”

This will be a rematch between Rickels and Fischer, as they met in a catchweight bout on Nov. 30 at Bellator 82 with Rickels winning by unanimous decision. But this time, much more is on the line as the victor will move on the tournament finals, one fight away from earning a check for $100,000 and a future title shot.

Rickels feels he’s even better prepared this time around to take on Fischer at Bellator 91 on Thursday.

“I feel a lot better at my weight class at 155. Last time I fought Fischer, I had some problems with my weight cut and didn’t feel quite as explosive and fast like I normally do in my fights,” Rickels admitted. “I felt great in the Woodard fight, so if I continue in the same way, I expect to finish Jason Fischer.”

On the opposite side of the bracket, Will Brooks takes on Saad Awad in the other semifinal bout. Rickels, a huge fan of the sport as well, predicts a decisive win for Brooks the same night.

“The way I see it, Will Brooks wins,” predicted Rickels. “I think if he gets on top early, he’s going to dictate it from the first round. Awad’s biggest shot is probably first round, catching him with a big shot or something. I just don’t see it happening, but who knows?”

But at this point, “The Caveman” is only focused on one thing: finishing Jason Fischer.

“I really feel that if I can keep it standing and work some of my power shots in, I think I can put him down and finish him with ground-and-pound.”

David would like to thank his sponsors Onnit Labs, Lecheek Nutrition, Throat Punch MMA and MMA Warehouse. You can follow him on Twitter @TheCaveman316

Photo: David Rickels (red gloves) lands a jab on Lloyd Woodard (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.